The VHS has recently extended its passport service to cover horses and ponies of any age and is offering what it believes are the cheapest passports available.

VHS passports are just £5 per passport for organisations with 10 or more equines, and whose work is charitable. This definition covers establishments such as riding schools and trekking centres as well as charities.

VHS members with a VHS registered horse can obtain a passport for £7.50 while any owner can pay £12.50 for the documentation. Passports from other issuing authorities are priced from £10 to £27.

Julianne Aspon of the VHS explained: “Because most of our staff are voluntary we have lower overheads than other organisations. We can supply passports for horses and ponies of all ages and these are the cheapest passports available as far as we know.

“The Pleasure Horse Society is offering free passports but only with £20 membership. We hope the fact these passports are so reasonable will encourage people to register as with a £5,000 fine it’s just not worth the risk. This is a fair price for the work involved.”

Julianne believes the passports will help the charity with its welfare work, saying: “If a pony comes in we can contact its old owners and find out about its history.

“A passport is a nice thing to have for any horse, it gives it recognition and identity. It’s useful when you come to sell the horse as well, as buyers can see how many owners the horse has had. Plus it’s helpful as worming and inoculations are also on there, in fact the whole history of the horse.”

The VHS handed out 3,000 applications at the Horse of the Year Show and is currently sending out about 1,000 forms a week.

Julianne warned that it could take some weeks for the passport to come through, but said that owners do not need to actually have the passport by January; they are perfectly legal provided they have applied for it. If they are spot-checked they can ring the VHS who will have dated the application form when they received it and can give them the passport number.

Louise Goldsmith is the VHS passport officer and the VHS passport office is open Tuesday to Thursday.

Forms can be downloaded from the VHS website (www.veteran-horse-society.co.uk) or be obtained by sending a self-addressed envelope to the society (Passports Office, Veteran Horse Society, Hendre Fawr Farm, St. Dogmaels, Cardigan, SA43 3LZ) For more information (tel: 01239 881300)

For more information about passports including a list of passport issuing authorities visit: www.defra.gov.uk and click on the horse passports link.

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